What's so great about it?
CALIBER OF FACULTY
Plan II prides itself on having top-notch professors teaching even freshman courses. The world literature class, for example, may be taught by a member of UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, while seminars are taught by specialists in their fields.
A good example: In the fall of 2009, Stephen Weinberg, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, taught a required Plan II first-year Modes of Reasoning course to fifteen Plan II freshmen. We expect him to teach the same course again in 2011. Find another program that has a Nobel laureate teaching freshmen, even undergraduates, and give us a call.
Plan II’s small classes encourage students to get to know their professors both in the classroom and outside of it. Independent research projects or senior theses often develop from these contacts.
All of the Plan II core courses are taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty or special adjunct faculty who are specialist in their fields. The adjuncts include medical doctors, lawyers and a federal judge. No Plan II Honors core courses are taught by graduate students. Of the Plan II core courses, at least five semesters (the year-long World Literature, the freshman seminar and the two junior seminars) will always have fewer than 20 students. Those classes usually fall in the 14—17 students per class range. The size of the other Plan II core courses varies from 25 to 55 or so students, depending on the class, the professor, and the year. Some are wildly popular and we try to accommodate students' requests when possible. But usually the enrollment limits are relatively firm for each class.
But this critical interaction between students and faculty is not limited to the classroom. Beginning early in the freshmen year, often before the first day of class, Plan II first-year students will have a participated in a Voltaire's Coffee (a book club), meeting other entering freshmen and a professor. Faculty often host these VCs in their home or Plan II hosts them in the Joynes Suite on campus. Faculty teaching Plan II freshmen will often require that students visit during office hours--although students quickly learn to take advantage of the professor's availability. Plan II sponsors a wide-variety of events which fostering student/faculty interaction, including: brown bag lectures, poetry readings, writing workshops and faculty advising.
Two professional academic advisers specializing in Plan II are available to help students select courses, determine areas of concentration, set long-term goals—or simply adjust to college life. In addition, a large cadre of well-trained peer advisers are available to assist students with routine matters. These peer advisers also serve as "big siblings" to the freshmen--with extra focus on the first semester. The Plan II director, associate director and other Plan II staff are always accesible and also provide advice and guidance.
Advising goes beyond registration and class needs however. Our advisers work closely with the faculty, during the students' second year to facilitate "sophomore advising," a developmental advising tool to help students look ahead to better tailor their courses and research to future plans and goals. During the third year, students will choose a thesis supervisor and second reader with assistance from the Plan II associate director and assistant director. The thesis advisers will work closely with the student throughout the fourth year as the student writes the thesis.
Although Plan II Honors is itself a major, a very large portion of our students pursue a second or third major in the same college (double- or triple-major) or seek simultaneous degrees with a second major in another college (dual-degree). Plan II is in the College of Liberal Arts, so double-majors include the disciplines in the College of Liberal Arts, i.e. history, English, government, Spanish, sociology, etc. Additional majors in other colleges, such as the College of Engineering or the Red McCombs School of Business, lead to two degrees. Dual-degree programs usually require a five-year commitment.
It’s possible to combine Plan II with any other major, degree or honors program at UT (with the exceptions of Pharmacy and the Liberal Arts Honors Programs). The 30+ credit hours the Plan II Honors degree plan leaves available as elective hours makes it possible to incorporate the degree requirements for other majors and degrees. Many students use those elective hours to study broadly, across disciplines and colleges, without completing another major. Still others use the elective hours to devise a specialization or concentration in an area, sometimes an area where a major is offered but the students isn’t necessarily interested in completing every one of the major requirements and sometimes in an field of study where there is not an established major, such as the Renaissance or another particular time period.
For example, a Plan II student could double-major in government or economics, or build a concentration in international relations with a skillful selection—aided by a Plan II professional academic adviser—of government, economics, history, and language courses.
Plan II Honors students may also combine Plan II with other honors programs at UT (with the exception of the Liberal Arts Honors Programs). Plan II Honors students combine their Plan II major and Business majors with the Business Honors Program, Plan II and their Engineering major with Engineering Honors, Plan II and their Natural Science major with Dean’s Scholars, and Plan II and their Computer Science major with Turing Scholars. Applicants may apply to Plan II Honors and to Liberal Arts Honors, but may not participate in both programs.
Plan II students develop a strong sense of community through shared classes, student organizations, and a home base in the Plan II office. The Plan II Students Association sponsors book discussions, arts organizations (theater, music, publications, and exhibitions), Convocation, a freshman retreat, and occasional picnics and parties. The Plan II office is equipped with computers and other equipment for student use. Students often stop by the office to check out the latest news, to chat with students and staff, or simply to grab a cookie from the cookie jar.
The Plan II Honors Program is in all respects excellent. Moreover, it is nearly a perfect example of a front-loaded honors program, one that directs most of its resources to laying a foundation in the first two years and then leaves students to engage in maximum self-realization. It is one of the least expensive state programs, not just relatively but absolutely... This is one of the best bargains in American higher education.Ivy League Programs at State School Prices, Arco-Prentice Hall, Robert R. Sullivan, 1994
"In many ways, Plan II is the ideal community, a microcosm of the 'real' world that includes philosophers, engineers, artists, businessmen, economists, poets, and architects. Through discussion with future leaders in a variety of fields, I have received an empowering perspective that guides my own approach toward community-building.
Though I came to the University thinking that I would become a practicing architect, I have realized through my Plan II classes that the improvement of entire communities--not just single structures--is my real passion. The Plan II curriculum has freed me and many other students to discern for ourselves who we are--and who we want to be."Sara Galvan Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture, 2001(majors: Plan II Honors, Spanish & Architecture) Truman Scholar 2000, Rhodes Scholar 2001